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Broccoli vs. Cauliflower

mcsheridan Feb 10, 2009 06:45 PM

I love the first yet loathe the second.
I'll eat Broccoli raw in salads, on a veggie/dip platter, lightly steamed, cheesed, deep-fried, stir-fried, in soup, you name it. Cauliflower I wouldn't touch in any form at any time (and the thought of using it as 'mock mashed potatoes' is purely revolting.)

How do you feel about these related yet totally different veggies? What's your favorite dish with either?

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    small h RE: mcsheridan Feb 10, 2009 06:48 PM

    I love them both, especially roasted together with fingerling potatoes, olive oil & salt. I do not like how the kitchen smells after, though.

    1 Reply
    1. re: small h
      sfumato RE: small h Feb 20, 2009 09:03 PM

      YES. My thoughts exactly!

      I also like cauliflower blanched and added to homemade mac and cheese (not the baked version).

    2. Jennalynn RE: mcsheridan Feb 10, 2009 07:01 PM

      I am utterly the opposite.

      I love cauliflower... raw, cooked, steamed, fried, soup... as mock mashed potatoes.

      Broccoli will never darken my plate.

      1. enbell RE: mcsheridan Feb 10, 2009 07:11 PM

        I love them both.
        The stalks of each are my favorite part.
        Cauliflower is more closely related to cabbage than broccoli.

        9 Replies
        1. re: enbell
          mcsheridan RE: enbell Feb 10, 2009 07:35 PM

          And yet I like cabbage more than cauliflower. :)

          1. re: enbell
            kmcarr RE: enbell Feb 11, 2009 05:11 AM

            Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (the standard, white variety) are all simply different cutivars (or varieties) of the very same species, Brassica oleracea. The Brassica genus (part of the Brassicacea or mustard family) incredibly diverse culinarily speaking but the genetic differences are actually quite minor. Other cultivars of B. oleracea include kale, brussel sprouts, kohlrabi and collards among others.

            1. re: kmcarr
              enbell RE: kmcarr Feb 11, 2009 03:44 PM

              Interesting. I learned that the genotypes of Cauliflower and Cabbage are more similar than when compared to Broccoli. I probably remember incorrectly. Regardless, isn't it interesting how small changes in the genome produce such vast phenotypic variation?! Thank you for the info :)

              1. re: enbell
                kmcarr RE: enbell Feb 12, 2009 02:08 PM

                It is possible that the variation between cauliflower and cabbage is indeed smaller that cauliflower and broccoli; I just wanted the make the point that at the genetic level there is only a fraction of percent between all of them. The relative difference would depend on which heirloom cultivars served as progenitors for the modern varieties and who long ago farmer Brown started selecting for different traits.

                Regarding small changes you are correct. It is also an example of how selective pressures (humans in this case) can diversify a species. Look at what we did with the dog!

              2. re: kmcarr
                Querencia RE: kmcarr Feb 12, 2009 01:35 PM

                McSheridan, have you tried cauliflower in cheese sauce (make a white sauce and dump in a whole package of shredded extra-sharp cheddar)---mix with the cut-up cauliflower---brown in oven or under broiler. You might change your mind.

                1. re: Querencia
                  kchurchill5 RE: Querencia Feb 12, 2009 01:44 PM

                  I'd eat it ... I eat cauliflower right off the plant without cooking it. I would prefer no cheese, but hey it's cheese ... who hates that :)

                  A good grilled steak or pork tenderloin and a salad on the side ... what time?

              3. re: enbell
                JungMann RE: enbell Feb 11, 2009 06:10 AM

                I love both and I also can't fathom why people throw away the stalks!

                Broccoli is a lighter vegetable in my house: stir-fried with oyster sauce or steamed with a simple squeeze of lemon.
                Cauliflower, however, always seems to do well when hearty: either as cauliflower cheese or roasted with garlic and parmesan.

                1. re: JungMann
                  cuccubear RE: JungMann Feb 11, 2009 12:14 PM

                  Couldn’t agree more, JM.

                  Broccoli – steamed, stir fried, or small chopped raw in a salad.

                  Cauliflower – roasted, curried or au gratin-ed, and sometimes raw on a veggie tray.

                  I love both equally well, stem to floret, but in different applications.

                  1. re: JungMann
                    enbell RE: JungMann Feb 11, 2009 03:45 PM

                    I am enjoying some broccoli stalks (lightly steamed with s/p) right now!

                2. goodhealthgourmet RE: mcsheridan Feb 10, 2009 07:45 PM

                  clearly there's some cauliflower love among us...


                  1. KaimukiMan RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 05:15 AM

                    Agree with you 100%. Cauliflower is like a rough draft of broccoli - then someone decided to add some flavor and some color.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: KaimukiMan
                      mcsheridan RE: KaimukiMan Feb 11, 2009 07:34 AM

                      I love that "cauliflower is like a rough draft of broccoli" :)


                    2. lupaglupa RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 05:16 AM

                      Both are wonderful - when cooked. I don't like either raw. I'll eat broccoli cooked any way - I like it best steamed with a bit of butter and lemon. Cauliflower is great roasted or baked with a cheese mustard sauce - my childhood favorite. Another childhood favorite is a cauliflower salad with red peppers, olives and blue cheese - excellent. I can't remember when I had that last - I should make it again!

                      1. m
                        mpjmph RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 05:32 AM

                        I love broccoli in pretty much any form, but only like cauliflower raw (really dislike the texture when cooked). I'm big fan of most other cabbage varietals though, and now I'm thinking I should try sauteing cauliflower the same way I do plain old green cabbage.

                        1. BobB RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 06:10 AM

                          I like both but use them quite differently. Broccoli has much more flavor so I'll usually just steam it and serve with butter and/or lemon. Cauliflower is more of a blank slate - think tofu with better roughage - so I like to spice it up by serving it mixed into a lamb curry, or like last night, when I cooked it up with crushed red pepper, minced garlic, and mashed-up anchovies. Seriously delicious!

                          1. s
                            swamp RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 06:17 AM

                            I like both of them cooked or raw. Lately I really like roasting my broccoli.

                            1. Gio RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 06:32 AM

                              We have either broccoli or cauliflower every week. All the Brassicas are beneficial vegetables and are especially protective against cancer and heart disease as well as helpful in the prevention of other major illnesses. We cook them many different ways, both the florets and the stems from which the outer skin is pared then sliced in rounds.

                              I make a particularly tasty pasta sauce with either steamed or roasted broccoli or cauliflower, anchovies, lots of garlic and red pepper flakes all sauteed in plenty of EVOO. Rather than totally raw, for a veggie plate for example, I blanch the florets first. As BobB said, the cauliflower is more or less a blank slate and can be paired with other vegetables in a sautee or stir fry, for instance.

                              1. c
                                ceekskat RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 08:05 AM

                                Whenever people say they don't like a particular vegetable, I think they should try an Indian version. Honestly, I can't think of any vegetable I don't like when prepared with spices (mild or spicy). And I have to add that I prefer cauliflower over broccoli in an Indian preparation. Two of the best cauliflower dishes I've ever had was just in the past year. I believe both were baked/roasted somehow...one at an Indian restaurant in Northern Ca. (perhaps using yogurt & spices) & the other at a Mid Eastern place in Plano, Tx (not spicy, but flavorful & nicely roasted). In fact, among huge selection of items including lamb, chicken, hummus, etc., the ONLY thing I liked at the latter was their cauliflower dish. Went with parents, cousins & we were all trying to figure out how the hec they made it!

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: ceekskat
                                  Louise RE: ceekskat Feb 11, 2009 08:22 AM

                                  Hmm, have you tried tossing the florets with some oil and garam masala then roasting in the oven til slightly browned? The browned bits are so good.

                                  1. re: Louise
                                    ceekskat RE: Louise Feb 11, 2009 02:54 PM

                                    Ooh, that's a good idea. We hardly ever use the oven in Indian cooking which is why I never think of roasting. I could never get "browned bits" without burning the vegetable when I sautee on med to high heat. That place in Texas had the floral part crisp but not crunchy & it wasn't even greasy!

                                    1. re: ceekskat
                                      kchurchill5 RE: ceekskat Feb 11, 2009 03:54 PM

                                      I roast mine with some balsamic, olive oil salt and pepper for the cauliflower. GREAT!

                                  2. re: ceekskat
                                    Budget Palate RE: ceekskat Feb 11, 2009 08:48 AM

                                    I also thought of an Indian preparation of cauliflower, in a creamy fragrant sauce.

                                    I like broccoli but am pretty opinionated about it. For one thing, raw broccoli needs to be put to a stop. For example, you see it tossed raw into salads by a careless and/or naive cook. To my knowledge we are the only country tossing raw broccoli around like this. Broccoli needs to be at least lightly cooked, for flavor and texture. Also, if healthfulness is a concern, its digestibilty and release of nutrients is enhanced by a little cooking.

                                    Quick way to do broccoli
                                    broccoli with garlic, lemon and hot red pepper

                                    1. Boil it in water -- don't forget the stems they're the best part -- until it reaches the texture you like. I like al dente.
                                    2. Shock it in ice water to keep the color if you want. I usually skip this step. But you could do it, for instance, if you wanted to put the broccoli aside and do something else.
                                    3. Heat up some olive oil and cook your garlic a little, or bring it all the way to toasted if you want, but don't burn it
                                    4. Toss in broccoli and get it all coated with the garlicky oil.
                                    5. Salt it and add hot red pepper flakes and lemon juice. Toss around a little more.

                                    A standard preparation I know but I thought I'd throw it in here.

                                    1. re: Budget Palate
                                      mcsheridan RE: Budget Palate Feb 11, 2009 05:01 PM

                                      Of course, "raw" should really be "blanched" - just barely blanched. Far more colorful that way, and a tad easier to chew.

                                    2. re: ceekskat
                                      mcsheridan RE: ceekskat Feb 11, 2009 04:59 PM

                                      As long as the Indian preparation doesn't contain the dreaded...Cilantro!


                                      1. re: mcsheridan
                                        ceekskat RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 09:16 PM

                                        Ah see, got you halfway to liking cauliflower, LOL. For me the dreaded herb is rosemary, ugh.

                                    3. l
                                      Louise RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 08:17 AM

                                      I'm ok with broccoli, but much prefer cauliflower. The BF is the opposite. Blanched cauliflower is really good mixed into baked mac & cheese flavored with mustard and topped with breadcrumbs. I've also done some tasty things with cauliflower, pancetta, and saffron.

                                      Cabbage is a tie with broccoli, except for my cabbage and lemon soup, yum.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Louise
                                        enbell RE: Louise Feb 11, 2009 03:48 PM

                                        Plus, if a piece gets stuck in your teeth, less people will notice (at least from a distance, and assuming you don't have horribly stained teeth)!

                                      2. h
                                        HillJ RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 11:55 AM

                                        Once I damned the cauliflower mock mash potatoe too but you know what-it turned out to be a delicious surprise. Doctored up with herbs and buttermilk really good.

                                        For my family I make a casserole of broccoli and cauliflower with panko bread crumbs, white cheddar cheese sauce and nutmeg to rave reviews and the kids get their veggies.

                                        I haven't met a veggie I didn't enjoy but how it's prepared is everything. Never more true than in the, let's call it, strong kitchen flavor category of these two vegetables.

                                        6 Replies
                                        1. re: HillJ
                                          BobB RE: HillJ Feb 11, 2009 12:05 PM

                                          Wish I could make that casserole - my wife won't touch anything with melted cheese. 8-(

                                          1. re: BobB
                                            HillJ RE: BobB Feb 11, 2009 12:55 PM

                                            BobB, would your wife enjoy buttermilk sauce instead? Works great as a sub.

                                            1. re: HillJ
                                              goodhealthgourmet RE: HillJ Feb 11, 2009 01:02 PM

                                              i was also thinking sour cream or evaporated milk might work as a stand-in for the cheese to keep it nice & creamy.

                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                BobB RE: goodhealthgourmet Feb 11, 2009 01:08 PM

                                                Hmm... sour cream definitely might work - she's Russian so she can't say no to a little smetana. I might even be able to sneak in a little grated parmesan. Thanks!

                                                1. re: BobB
                                                  goodhealthgourmet RE: BobB Feb 11, 2009 01:14 PM

                                                  great! hope it works :)

                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                    HillJ RE: goodhealthgourmet Feb 11, 2009 02:08 PM

                                                    Sounds good to me too ghg! I'd use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream but I always have that and evap. milk in the house.
                                                    For something really different coconut powdered milk or juice works nicely too with some lemon grass powder and thai spice to change it up completely.

                                        2. kchurchill5 RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 12:09 PM

                                          I couldn't live without either. I'm a very easy eater and grew up with a garden and was always eating everything right out of the garden daily. I love each steamed, roasted especially, a light casserole with fresh crimini and fennel and just about anything else.

                                          I too like the stems, I enjoy soup, but my favorite has to be steamed with some fresh ground pepper, salt and a light seasoning by far. Second for either is roasted and then topped with some fresh bread crumbs and lightly baked. Still nothing fancy. I eat a whole head myself at least once a week of each. Salads, soups, main dishes, you name it.

                                          1. Passadumkeg RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 12:22 PM

                                            Both! In fact I make a dish where I cut out alternate cauli florets and replace them w/ brocc, the steam the whole and serve sauced. Pretty and delic.

                                            1. Karl S RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 01:28 PM

                                              I am fussy about both.

                                              1. Both must be very fresh, especially broccoli - that is, harvested within the past day. Broccoli's delicate flavors are lost quickly after harvesting, which helps explain why many people don't like the vegetable, because they are getting broccoli that is not as fresh as it should be.

                                              2. Broccoli should be cooked until tender (not mushy but tender). None of this nouvelle crispy crap - I am not a rodent. When fresh broccoli is tender, there is a lovely balance of flavor. Otherwise, it's a waste of mastication.

                                              3. Cauliflower, unlike broccoli, can be eaten raw if very fresh and segmented well. Otherwise, it's best roasted (pan or oven or grill). It's an abomination mashed - no, it's a vile imitation of something divine, mashed potatoes. (Shudder.)

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Karl S
                                                enbell RE: Karl S Feb 11, 2009 03:53 PM

                                                How wonderfully precise! While I will eat both, I do agree that raw cauliflower is superior.

                                              2. p
                                                pickledtink RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 03:59 PM

                                                I love both, but I like every ve
                                                ggie I have ever tried.

                                                I would be curious to know if those who like one or the other have ever tried one of these guys http://www.xylzg.com.cn/wspx/yanwsh/b...

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: pickledtink
                                                  enbell RE: pickledtink Feb 11, 2009 04:03 PM

                                                  Yep, sure have. Ahthough they're referred to ab brocoflower or broccoliflower, they are really just green cauliflower. They taste slightly different than regular cauliflower, a bit stronger in my opinion.

                                                2. p
                                                  paulispumonti RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 04:40 PM

                                                  Whenever I order Chinese food I try to include chicken or shrimp with broccoli- when it's done right it's absolutely delicious, and at least I feel I am eating one dish that's healthy...

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: paulispumonti
                                                    KaimukiMan RE: paulispumonti Feb 11, 2009 10:02 PM

                                                    assume you have been reading the thread on "Americanized Chinese food"

                                                  2. l
                                                    Lucia RE: mcsheridan Feb 11, 2009 06:36 PM

                                                    I love both, but cauliflower might be one of my favorite vegetables. I love cauliflower raw--probably my favorite raw vegetable. It also makes a great puree--a great accompaniment to my favorite seafood, scallops.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Lucia
                                                      kchurchill5 RE: Lucia Feb 12, 2009 08:08 AM

                                                      Definitely I saute lightly, add some shallots and fresh seasoning and even lemon zest and some white wine and use it over fresh fish. I love it. it is great over a spinach pasta or tomato pasta too with some carmelized onions and mushrooms. It s simple a absolutely great.

                                                    2. l
                                                      laliz RE: mcsheridan Feb 12, 2009 08:29 AM

                                                      I love both of them. Mock mashed potatoes are divine, have replaced mashed potatoes at our Thanksgiving dinner ~~ and I assure you we are a mashed potato loving family who approached faux potatoes with great trepidation.

                                                      I agree with the poster who said no raw broccoli; but I will eat raw cauliflower although I prefer it cooked.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: laliz
                                                        kchurchill5 RE: laliz Feb 12, 2009 08:45 AM

                                                        I know laliz you said you didn't like raw broccoli. I love mashed potatoes and broccoli together a little cream and a little gruyere cheese. It really is good. I do the same with peas and potatoes too ... another blog :)

                                                      2. Amuse Bouches RE: mcsheridan Feb 12, 2009 08:52 AM

                                                        I love most cruciferous vegetables, though Broccoli isn't one of my favorites (it's a texture thing). I like broccoli, but I love cauliflower (in soup, mashed with a leetle butter, roasted with garlic).

                                                        1. Bat Guano RE: mcsheridan Feb 12, 2009 10:54 AM

                                                          Broccoli was actually invented relatively recently, sometime in the 19th century, according to my possibly faulty memory. Named after the family of the guy who directed many of the James Bond films (wouldn't it be cool to have a vegetable named after you?). It's a cross between cauliflower and broccoli rabe. So they're obviously closely related. Just a little trivia about my favorite vegetable.

                                                          Broccoli has been one of my favorites for as long as I can remember, but I was never a big fan of cauliflower until relatively recently, when I started cooking it in different ways than my mother did - she always just boiled it (too long) and served it with a little butter. Blech. Since then I've had it raw, curried, roasted, and mashed, among other ways, and find any of these preferable to the boiling regimen.

                                                          Broccoli is still the king, though; as long as it's not overcooked, just about any method of preparation is good: steamed, steamed and finished with garlic and olive oil, roasted, raw, blended into soup, stir-fried, tempura deep-fried, and on and on....

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Bat Guano
                                                            BobB RE: Bat Guano Feb 12, 2009 11:17 AM

                                                            Er, uh, ahem - actually, that story about Albert Broccoli's family inventing the vegetable is, to put it kindly, an urban legend. Broccoli has been around since Etruscan times.

                                                            References: Encyclopedia Britannica (trusty hard copy on my bookshelf), as well as

                                                            1. re: BobB
                                                              Bat Guano RE: BobB Feb 12, 2009 01:02 PM

                                                              Rats! I liked that story. And I still think it'd be cool to have a vegetable named after you. But thanks for setting me straight.

                                                              1. re: Bat Guano
                                                                BobB RE: Bat Guano Feb 12, 2009 01:09 PM

                                                                You're welcome! Yes, it would be cool to have a vegetable named after you - but I'm not sure I could bring myself to stir-fry anything called guano. ;-)

                                                          2. KaimukiMan RE: mcsheridan Feb 12, 2009 02:29 PM

                                                            I'm intrigued by those who say they like the texture of cauliflower, to me that is the most objectionable part, especially raw. The way it breaks up into little grainy pieces, but then I am not fond of oatmeal, polenta, grits, etc. either, also a texture not taste issue.

                                                            1. l
                                                              lgss RE: mcsheridan Feb 12, 2009 02:46 PM

                                                              We like both but eat a lot more broccoli than cauliflower. Broccoli goes with pasta, black beans and rice, in soup, stir fry, etc. cauliflower usually ends up in curry, i.e. aloo gobi. I think one reason we buy cauliflower less often it that it seems to need to be used more quickly and to me it's more of a hassle to prepare.

                                                              1. k
                                                                KevinB RE: mcsheridan Feb 12, 2009 03:09 PM

                                                                Love 'em both! We go to a lot of Chinese banquets, and generally there is a shrimp/scallop dish with steamed broccoli - I really enjoy that combo. At home, it's usually steamed with butter and lemon, and yes, we eat the stalks as well as the florets.

                                                                And my 12-year old, when we order Chinese takeout, loves beef and broccoli, and actually asks for extra broccoli!

                                                                Our nanny makes a fantastic cauliflower in a garlic cream sauce - there's never any of that left over. I also like it in curries, and as mock mashed potatoes.

                                                                1. mcsheridan RE: mcsheridan Feb 13, 2009 06:14 PM

                                                                  Okay: Which one of you chowhounds put the NY Times up to this?


                                                                  1. k
                                                                    Kinnexa RE: mcsheridan Feb 14, 2009 09:52 AM

                                                                    Yes, both! My current favorite is roasted, but I'll gladly eat them any way except overcooked--slimy (broc) or mushy (caul). And 'mock mashed potatoes'?? Yecch!

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